Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Memory Tree

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:    
Memory Tree
The Brief:

 As we head into the festive / holiday season I want us to think of those who will not be with us for the season. If this was your memory tree who would you put on the tree and why?
This can of course be friends and family, but what about former pets and colleagues.

I guess the question is who is on the memory tree. Every year when we put up the tree, we have ornaments which are respective of people or pets that have been close to us. However, for my husband's side of the family, he hasn't done anything like this.
Our 2014 tree

On the tree are in remembrance ornaments. I started this in 2013 for each of my Polish ancestor families - Wojtkowski/Wojtkowska, Jagodzinski, and Ostrzycki. This was because I found Polish ornaments that were made in Poland.

I haven't been able to find ornaments for Denmark or Belgium. If I don't, then I'll have to get ornaments from countries near there and put a tag on them like I have the ones from Poland.

We have remembrance ornaments for the 2 babies we lost - our February baby and Jamie Sweetpea.

Also, we have remembrance ornaments for past dogs - JR, our Jack Russell, and Jackie, our terrier cross. We do have one for our current dog, Buddy (another Jack Russell), but it does not have an end date on it.

All year around we have pictures out of people who have passed - Brett's "Uncle Al", Brett's friend Mrs. Hodges and now Brett's grandmother, Wendy.

  Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Family who served in the Military & their family

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:    

The Brief: 

          Did you join the military?
          Were you encouraged or discouraged?
          Did a family member?
          Regular or for a particular incident
          Did you or your family serve overseas in the line of Service either during a war or a posting
          Any thoughts, photographs, memories relevant

The video is

This is an interesting topic for me. As everyone stops to say thank you for those who have served, I always ask - how many times in a year do we do this? If you look at each time its about at least 4 times in a year, depending on where you live, that we say thank you to the people who served in the Military. We have Remembrance or Veterans Day (Nov 11), Memorial Day (May), and ANZAC Day (April 25). I do know that some of these are US and some are UK/Australian, but I wonder if anyone stopped to think about each of these days. Then you have the days that are not holidays but there was something, within the military, which happened such as D Day (June 6). 

I'm not saying these should not be here, but I'm just bringing up just how many days we do look back at those who have served. 

My Family
I have some family that have served in the military, so this will be lengthy! The common theme seems to be either in the Army, Air Force or the Navy as far as I know. I'm still researching, but I do know the people below have served or, in one case, I have found documentation they served but have not proven the documentation as yet. 

Great Grandfather (Father's side)
Adam Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Russian? Army

This is still the documentation who I still have to prove. I found, when I was doing my research on him, that he could have served in what was then Russian territory (this is now part of Poland). I believe that if he DID serve, it was part of a conscription or draft as this was common I found out. The armies, if they needed more soldiers, went to the nearest church and went through the church records to find men or boys able to serve. Then they asked around the small villages and upon finding the person told them they were now part of the army. If the paperwork is correct, then he was part of the Russian Army. This I believe could be truthful as I know when he migrated to the US, he cursed Russians all the rest of his days. 

Great Grand Uncle (Father's side)
(First Name Unknown) Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Polish Army 

I know that Adam and his brother, which I don't know his first name, were very close. In a picture my father saw, they looked like twins because their looks were so close to each other. In fact this brother was 2 years younger than Adam. However, I do know by talking to my father, that this unknown Great Grand Uncle died in his 20's due to being part of the Polish Resistance or Polish Army and fought against the Russians. 

James (or Jimmy) Sherman 
Early 1940's
US Air Force

Jimmy I grew up knowing about due to my mother being very close to her cousin. He always came to visit her and always asked after her in letters. He signed up for the Army because with the attacks of the Germans, his mother was afraid. He figured to protect his mother and others (like my mother), he would sign up to make the world a safer place. He was a gunner in the Air Force. 

The last time my mother saw him, he was due to leave in a few hours to get back to the base before they left on his mission. My mother was able to stay up later than normal, so she could see him. He handed her his wings, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and left. Within a few months, his plane went down and no one ever heard from him again. About the time he went down, my mother said she dreamed of him saying that he was fine and to take care of his wings.
The wings Jimmy gave to my mother, Jo Ann

This is what started my family history search. I wanted, for my mother's sake, to find out what happened to him and why they went down. I was able to find the group he was with and the details of what happened. 
The official report which listed James as MIA.

I was able to find was the Air Force had "The James J. Sherman Papers" located in Florida. These are a collection of works either my Jimmy or his mother, Florance. After Florance died, someone gave her books away to a bookstore. The bookstore found the information and turned it into the Air Force which set up these papers. The sad part about it, is after contacting them, they will not release a copy to myself. If I want to see the collection, I will have to make an appointment and go to Florida to view the items in person. This is very disturbing to me, as I know if my mother knew about the items, she would have claimed them. At this present time, we are not able to travel to the US, so it will have to be something to be looked into at a later date.

Grand Uncle(Father's Side)
Stanley F Wojkowski
US Army

I only know from the US City Directories, but he was in the US Army. I do know growing up my grandmother told me he did some drinking but gambled heavily. I do know he made it home after the war physically, but the later part of his life was not what I would call a good one. 

Grandfather (Father's side)
Matthew Schmitz
US Army

In the last year or so I found, by talking to my father, that my grandfather did serve in the US Army Medical Corps. It was only a few years, but it must have taken its toll on him. I do know that he was an alcoholic and this could have been due to his service. Later in his life, I'm told he had diabetes (from drinking), which put him in the hospital at Castle Point, NY and he died there due to complications of diabetes. 

Matthew G Schmitz
1950's-Early 1970's
US Navy

My father went into the Navy almost right out of High School. By that time, he either was dating or had married my mother. He was stationed all around the US, and my mother went along with him living in military housing and went wherever the Navy sent my father. Eventually he made it into the submarines.

Finally after having 4 children, my mother wanted a home near where they grew up. They moved and I believe lived at Stewart Air Force Base in the military housing there for awhile and then bought their home with the help from my father's mother.

I do know when I was born, he was off shore on the sub and was called into the deck. This is where he learned that I was born by a cable that was sent by the doctor at West Point. 
I was born here because it was the closest military hospital to Newburgh, NY

By the time I was 3 1/2, he had retired from the Navy, but was working in a job he got afterwards. However, he never truly left the Navy - he just went about serving them in other ways. He went to the VFW and joined. 

Over the years, he's went to the commander and into the regional and state commander of the VFW and other organizations which all deal with Subs and the Navy. He has also received many awards and was inducted into the Holland Club.  
His Certificate for the Holland Club
Receiving the Certificate for the Holland Club

In 2013 at the Memorial Day Ceremony

 As he's getting older, he's slowing down and not doing as much in his clubs and organizations, but he is still active. Further, he goes to many of the decommissioning of the subs as well.

Charles A Schmitz Jr
US Navy

My nephew went into the Navy. I'm not sure if it was his grandfather's influence, but I know from talking to him, he needed to do this in order for the GI bill to help with his college costs. He went directly from high school into the Navy. 

He made it from normal Navy into what they call a Fireman. I do know he was on a vessel called the USS Anzio for part of his time serving. 

As he's only been out a few years, he's in the process of getting his education he wanted. 

Thomas James III
US Army

I do know he's been into the Army now for a few years. I heard this back around 2010 or before. As my sister, his mother, started to interfere in my life, I stopped speaking to her, and as he took right after her at that point, I stopped visiting. Within a year they moved from NY to the Carolina's and I never heard from them again at all. Every now and then my brother might bring up what the whole side of the family is doing, but its not often. 

From Facebook, I know that he's still in the Army. 

Military Families
I do know that you cannot mention people who served in any part of the armed forces without saying something about their families. It takes rare people to sign up and even rarer people to actually hold things together here at home while they are off serving. 

Its a very hard life for the families, as I know being within one. I can hear my brother and sisters saying that I wouldn't know because our father was here most of my life (remember he retired when I was very young). However, I was part of a half way club - I was a US Navy brat, but my father never moved around. My mother, even after my parents divorced, continued to move every 2-4 years. Besides, I remember rarely seeing my father growing up (for various of reasons), so it was like he was away on a sub, so to me it didn't matter. 

Throughout my life, I hated the thought of the services. Even after my father stopped "serving" he was still well within the ranks of doing things for the Navy. To the point, where all he would do is talk about only that subject. If I wanted to know what were the goings on in the latest stuff for the Navy, then I would just have to go over to my father's. In a way, its like I didn't have a father or a daddy - I had a person who served with the Navy. I know its hurtful for some, but the Navy has not been good for our family in that way. Most of us curse it because we feel it robbed us of a father and daddy even when he was here with us, he wasn't. 

Do I believe every solder, no matter what branch of the service he's in, is like this? No. I think its like anything - you have a person who loves something to the extreme - but it becomes an obsession. Then you have others where its just a job, they go and do their job and come home. Once they are home, they don't talk about it or if they do talk its in general terms, but they pay attention to who they are talking to and have conversations other than what they are serving. Unfortunately, my father was the extreme type of person.

Anyhow, next time you give thanks to the people serving, just give a thought to those who are supporting that serving - the families - and give just a little bit of thanks to them as well. 

All this being said, do we still love them and proud? Of course! If we didn't, then we wouldn't expend all of the energy it takes to give them a stable home life where they don't have to worry about what's happening back home while they are away. 

I know every year we get up early in the morning and go into the city for the ANZAC day service here in Melbourne. That's when I take the time to think about each person who serves and ask myself - Why did they go in? Did they get what they wanted from it? Do they ever regret it?  - and somehow, overall, I don't think they regret it at all. After all they are fighting for us to be free.


Independence – What would you do if you didn’t have it?

As its July 4th, Independence Day, this week in the United States, I sit back and think of how many people don’t even think about having independence. People today just think it’s a given that it’s there and don’t think – what would their life be like if they didn’t have it? 

Governments - Independence versus Communist Rule

As the United States has celebrates its 237th birthday, did you know that this special day wasn’t a federal holiday until 1870? Yes, that’s correct! Congress didn’t make it a holiday until 1870, but wasn’t a paid holiday until 1941. Unbelievable but true. Then there are some other people that say that America wasn’t anactually independent until August 2, 1776. Why is this? This is because the Declaration of Independence wasn’t fully signed until August 2nd.  Then why does America celebrate it on that day? It’s because Congress, in a closed session, actually passed the wording of the document, The Declaration of Independence, on that day and only 3 people (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin), to my knowledge, signed it.

On the other hand, those who live in Communist Rule countries know little about the Independence that the US forefathers wrote about.  Some people, who live there, don’t think about what they could be gaining (freedom of speech to name just one freedom) by not living in their country, and that’s because they are used to living this way and that’s fine by them. Much of what they say and do in these regions of the world is controlled by the government. Some people can and do like living this way and others who are tired of living this way move to countries which they do have their independence.

History IS important

In fact, back in the late 1800’s many people immigrated from one of these countries to places like the US. My ancestors were many of them that took this time to leave the countries of their birth and moved to a country, as young as it was, showed what they considered safer, secure and more of a promise than the one they knew. One of the common says “Stay with the evil you know or the devil you don’t know” comes to mind. For some, this was a huge change for them as they left everything they knew and loved behind – including loved ones.
I know from speaking to my grandmother, who immigrated to the US when she was a young girl, that she didn’t know what to expect but knew it had to be better than what they were living in. Then she saw the Statue of Liberty and said that it was huge and beautiful she knew that she was finally safe. I didn’t entirely understand what she was saying, until this year when I started to research the conditions when she left Poland with her mother and meet up with her father after they cleared Ellis Island. Recently, I spoke to my father about them coming to the US, and it opened my eyes to exactly what the family went through before they arrived at Ellis Island and my respect went up another notch.  If only I could have been a bit older to completely understand when my grandmother was alive, I could have sat there talking to her for days.

As for which government is better, is a bit of a mix feeling and thoughts when I sat thinking about it. In a way both are pretty good with the government being a large mother and father to the people rather than the mother and fathers of the independent state being the ones to regulate what happens. That being said, I don’t feel I could probably live with a government dictating to me what I could and could not do.

That being said, with the recent privacy issues being released by Edward Snowden, regarding the government’s surveillance, people are concerned about this issue. I’ve heard and read about people saying it goes against laws and liberties and what makes the US the US. This I can understand, however, this has happened before – remember back in World War 2? – and it goes along those lines, I believe, the government is taking this stand.

In the past nearly 10 years, we have had 3 major buildings terrorized, countless near attacks and recently the Boston Marathon bombing. If you think back to what you felt each time these things
2013 Boston Bombing
happened, is the reasoning behind why the government is trying to do the surveillance that they are. Do I like it? No, however, I understand that when I was calling into the US from Australia, I knew there were people listening in as you can hear the clicks and hesitations that tell me someone else is on the line but I know if that’s what they have to do to keep my friends and family safe, then that’s what they do. My life is not that exciting for them to listen into, but if they want to be extremely bored by my life then leave them to it. Because compared to what my grandmother and great grandparents went through, a few listening in clicks are a lot better than having someone I love killed by someone that they could have stopped.
My grandmother, Jean, in the 1980's.

So this week when you think of the US and their free liberties, also think of those who don’t have those liberties. Some of them want those liberties but don’t have the means or will power to get them unlike my ancestors. Each year when this holiday comes around, I think of what my grandmother’s face would have looked like as she sailed past the Statue of Liberty and how she felt so safe and NEVER give that up – NEVER give up my US citizenship. I did make that promise and I WILL keep it because it means even more now, today, then it did when she asked me to give that promise. 
secure that she asked me, her granddaughter, before her death to promise and swear that whatever I did in life, to

So what will you think about on this day of Independence?